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Key Concepts in International Relations

Key Concepts in International Relations

May 2011 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

International Relations is a vibrant field of significant growth and change. This book guides students through the complexities of over 40 central concepts and core theories, relating them at all times to contemporary issues and debates.

Each concept is divided into five sections to allow rapid familiarization with the topic and provide signposts for further exploration:

  • Core questions to address
  • Definition
  • Theoretical perspectives
  • Empirical problems
  • Core reading and useful websites

In addition the major theories are covered by six-part entries that give a 360 degree view of the strengths, weaknesses, applications and methodologies of each one:

  • An introduction to the core questions
  • Overview and background
  • Methodologies
  • Empirical application
  • Central criticism
  • Core reading and useful websites

Clear and highly readable, Key Concepts in International Relations is an essential guide for students on politics and international relations courses.

Balance of Power
Conflict Resolution
Democratic Peace
(International) Development
Theory Concept
Feminism and Gender

Foreign Policy Analysis
Game Theory
Global Governance
Human Rights
Humanitarian Intervention
Ideas and Norms
International Ethics
International Law
International Regimes
International Society
Levels of Analysis
Theory Concept
Liberalism and Neo-Liberalism

Theory Concept
Marxism and Critical Theory

Nationalism and Ethnicity
Peace and War
Theory Concept
Postmodernism and Post-Structuralism

Theory Concept
Realism and Neo-Realism

Regional Integration
Security Community
Security Dilemma
Theory Concept
Social Constructivism

Territoriality and Borders

This excellent reference book will be the first point of call for students wishing to quickly make sense of the key texts of the discipline; without shying away from controversy the authors illuminate and clarify the central conceptual debates of International Relations

Christopher May
Professor of Political Economy, Lancaster University

'Basic conceptual understanding is a precondition for thinking theory thoroughly. The authors of this book have accomplished laudably in their endeavour of providing an easy to access guide, offering an overview of the rich variety of meanings of key concepts in International Relations' -
Professor Knud Erik Jørgensen
Aarhus University

It is useful for students to use it as a handbook of key concepts in IR. Concepts are very well defined with their theoretical background. I already adopted it in February 2018, and I have been using it since then. I forgot to send a feedback, and hence, I had to choose January 2020 as the decision date.

Dr Gonenc Uysal
Department of International Relations, Osmaniye Korkut Ata University
January 14, 2020

The book is well written and I recommend it for all students who want to be familiar with IR. Although it is titled Key Concepts, it is actually more than concepts and more like a text book in a dictionary form. It includes sections on theory, methodology and empirical issues for each entry and is therefore quite comprehensive. I also found it quite upto date incorporating new concepts and controversies of discussion.

Dr Faruk Yalvac
Dept of International Relations, Middle East Technical University
November 17, 2014

This is a very useful reference book - the kind students should always have at hand, to refer to when in doubt about a particular concept or theoretical approach in International Relations. Each chapter is written in a very clear and pedagogic style, while avoiding oversimplifications, and follows the same, very good structure, starting with core questions, and moving on to definitions/overview/background, theoretical perspectives, empirical problems/criticisms, core readings and useful websites. With 41 concepts included, it manages to cover a wide range of approaches and issues central to the study of International Relations (although Orientalism is the big absent). My one criticism is with regards to the reading suggestions - I think there could be a little more, including works which apply the theoretical approach or concept under study (this is always useful when trying to explain to students how they can use theoretical approaches and concepts in their own work). Websites, on the other hand, would maybe be better listed on a SAGE webpage, which could be updated and expanded on a regular basis.

Dr Marie Gibert
School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University
April 8, 2014

This is an excellent resource to get a first grasp of an issue. It seems to be appropriate for advanced as well as for new students of IR and I'm looking forward to using it.

Dr Harry Bauer
Dept of Political Science, University College London
January 10, 2014

While the book provides a good dictionary of concepts, the treatment of each one was a bit too cursory for my purposes.

Professor Gary Wren
Interdisciplinary Studies Field Major, University of California - Berkeley
January 31, 2013

Since the course focuses on a very specific and narrow topic, the notion of power in IR, this book will be a useful integration for B.A. students who wish to get fast information on some other concept in IR, for example balance of power or hegemony. The book provides excellent overviews on key concepts and suitable essential reading lists as well as links to relevant websites.

Dr Sandra Destradi
(and University of Göttingen), GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies
September 14, 2012

Good general introduction to key concepts in IR. Good background reading for students approaching IR for the first time.

Well structured (core question, definition, theoretical perspective, etc.).

Lacks of concrete examples illustrating the commented concepts.

Some other concepts may be touched upon (e.g. international organisations, supranationalism, asymetry, etc.)

Mr Michaël Maira
Department of Political Sciences, FUSL: Saint Louis University Faculties
July 28, 2011

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Thomas Diez

Thomas Diez is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Tübingen. He received his PhD from the University of Mannheim in 1999. From 1997 to 2000, he was Research Fellow at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute and subsequently, from 2000 to 2009, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and then Professor of International Relations and Head of Department at the University of Birmingham. He joined Tübingen in April 2009. Thomas has also taught in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Munich and Victoria (BC). Among his publications are The Routledge Handbook on Critical European Studies (co-editor, Routledge, 2021), The EU and... More About Author

Ingvild Bode

Aleksandra Fernandes da Costa

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